**This piece was submitted as part of our Community Contributor series.
By Erinn Williams / OC Monitor Community Contributor
“Bluegrass has brought more people together and made more friends than any music in the world. You meet people at festivals and renew acquaintances year after year.” – Bill Monroe
I spent most of a Saturday afternoon staring out at a hill covered in lawn chairs. Most of them strangers, snacking on funnel cakes and lemonade, tapping their toes and smiling.
Microphone in hand, I introduced band after band, recognized sponsors, bragged on homemade fudge, channeling the best Minnie Pearl I knew how. This wasn’t just another Saturday in Rosine, Kentucky, this was something bigger.
Just as a pastor preaches sermons to his flock, the gospel that is bluegrass had returned once again to the hills of home.
The word “revival” is said to mean a new presentation of something old, renewed attention or interest, a highly emotional meeting. Given the absence of the beloved Jerusalem Ridge Festival, Sept. 13-16 proved to be just that, a highly emotional meeting for many, at the birthplace of bluegrass, high on the hill and above the town.
Like the arrival of a wayward son, the festival was ushered in first with a birthday party, held Sept. 13 in honor of Bill Monroe, complete with a cake and live music. Music continued later that afternoon at the Monroe Farm from the valley just adjacent to the homeplace. Thursday would be the beginning of a weekend many have waited on for years.
Legends like Larry Sparks and Ronnie Reno graced the modest wooden stage. Award winning entertainers like The Grascals made the journey to Jerusalem Ridge, as well as crowd favorites like King’s Highway. A festival that many had speculated would never return indeed did, and quite frankly, it returned with a powerful lineup.
The crowds grew from modest to thriving by Saturday, and by Sunday, as the crowd packed up to head out after a church service under the pines, next year’s festival was already the talk of many. License plates ranging from California to Pennsylvania were present, with visitors from Japan traveling the farthest.
Much can be said about a new interest in something old. I think it’s safe to say that a festival adored and honored as sacred to so many, is worth fighting for.
I stared at my bare feet Sunday afternoon as I wrapped up tours at the homeplace and rested on the porch. The hustle and bustle of vendors leaving was loud and noisy around the 102-year-old farm house. I smiled thinking of all the feet that had danced on that same porch, and how many that would still dance in years to come. I think back to the old-time mountain preachers I grew up with who preached revivals, in hopes to renew and uplift their congregations.
In the house of Monroe, I do believe the old-time saints are singing. Revival has come, and those who believe in bluegrass on Jerusalem Ridge have been renewed.
Erinn Williams hails from Whitley County in the heart of Southeastern Kentucky, and now resides in Owensboro with her husband, Seth. She is an Elementary Education major, working this fall in the Daviess County Public Schools as a preschool educator. Erinn is actively involved as a volunteer for the Bill Monroe Foundation at the Bill Monroe Homeplace in Rosine and recently served as the Kids Zone Coordinator for ROMP in Owensboro. Bluegrass runs deep within her roots, as she comes from a long line of musicians, and is an aspiring mandolin player. She is active in her church and in the recovery community. Erinn loves the outdoors, traveling with her husband, cooking, and appreciates a fresh glass of lemonade. She has a passion for writing, spreading hope through her faith, and being with family and friends.